Summer Week 14. Every Extra Sunny Day Counts

The Equinox. That time when we really notice that the days are getting shorter, and can no longer deny it. It’s my favorite time of year, aside from the excitement of starting the first seeds in January, or eating the first Sugarsnap of the year. I love cool, rainy fall weather, sweaters and swirling leaves, and splashing in puddles. But this year, because we got started six weeks late in spring, I’m grateful for every extra sunny day and non-freezing night. Every warm afternoon pushes all the crops to grow and ripen just a little bit faster than they would on a cloudy day. Every heat unit of each day counts now. Frost could happen at any time.

Fall crops are coming on as the tomatoes wind down. This year’s tomato crop was mind-blowing, though! I’ve never had that kind of production, and I’ll definitely be using the same new tricks I used this year in 2023! The peppers will continue to ripen for several more weeks… there was one year that I kept picking peppers until Thanksgiving! Zucchini and cucumbers will soon be making way for their cousins, the hard squashes, including Honey Bear and Delicata and Spaghetti. Hopefully the rest will ripen up in these last warm days!

One of the final bouquets of 2022: Hollyhocks, Hyssop, Sunflowers, Verbena, and Statice.

The cut-flower garden is finished for the year, and bouquet subscriptions will finish up this week. That’s six weeks earlier than planned, but we also got started six weeks later. Credits will be coming to those who purchased bouquet subscriptions to make up for the shortfall. We’ve learned an awful lot, and will be expanding and focusing more on the flower block of the farm.

Fall migration season has begun, and as the Osprey and Warblers depart for the south and Golden Crowned Sparrows and Coopers Hawks return for winter, so will the Vultures of the Pumpkin Patch begin to appear. Keep your binoculars handy, they’ll be here any day! There are a lot of pumpkins out there, and hopefully they’ll get the chance to turn orange! But I’ve carved my share of green pumpkins; they can be just as spooky.

Salad turnips are wandering out of their protective cover. This breathable fabric keeps insects like Flea Beetles and Cabbage Root Maggots from eating the turnips before you do.

We finished planting two weeks ago, and now we do maintenance; the final cultivations, a little irrigation, and a lot of harvesting. We’re getting as much cleaned up as possible in preparation for next year, and cover crops will be sown as soon as we get our first rain. We’ve made adjustments and are planning ahead so that we can get the higher parts of the farm planted early next year, even if it’s as wet as this spring was.

This patch of baby bok choy is looking pretty! We should be starting to harvest in early October.

To close, I’m including the link to the Barn2Door store here. 2023 CSA shares are open to all (not many Spring shares left, but plenty of Summer and Winter). I’ve also extended the deadline to use the 10% off discount through September 30. (Originally it was the Equinox, but I forgot to remind everyone, so I added a grace period!) The discount is only for current CSA Members please: Use CSAEARLYBIRD at checkout.

Have a great week, and Happy Fall!

Shelley

Finally, a Harvest to be Proud Of: Week 8

It feels like it has taken forever this season… and we are finally forced to choose between all the things to harvest at the same time that we notice the days start to get shorter. I guesstimate that we are where we should have been 5-6 weeks ago, harvest-wise. We’re picking the first beans and first zucchini, which typically happens in early July. The cucumbers are still struggling, but there are some here and there, which is why you’re not getting sick of them yet. The basil is finally good, but there won’t be abundance there this year. The tomatoes though… so glad I worked extra hard to start them in January, because they are LOADED! And soon the peppers and eggplants will join them.

CSA Week 8! Clockwise from top left: “Purple Viking” potatoes, Green Beans (not in Mini Shares), Carrots, Red Torpedo half-sweet Onions, Basil, assorted Tomatoes, Sorrel or Mint (not in Mini Shares), Zucchini (not in Mini Shares), Bok Choy (not in Mini Shares). Large Shares only: Lettuce and Cucumber.

Next week, we sow the last outdoor crops of the season… this means all the spinach and other greens for fall and winter. The last chance opportunity, because day length is getting shorter and plants effectively stop growing rapidly around the autumnal equinox, September 20-21. That means we plant now and get as much growth as possible before they start slowing down. Two weeks ago, we sowed the last root crops, and last week I did the last greenhouse sowing. Lettuce, Napa cabbage, and green onions for winter. Those plants will all be planted in greenhouses in September for harvest in November-December.

On the one hand, looking at the fields, it looks like we should be in late June. So much ground not used this year because we couldn’t get it worked up fast enough with the spring wet and cold. But the sky is saying, you’re nearly finished so wrap it up. I’ve talked to a few people who feel like everything should have shifted as soon as the heat kicked in a month ago. They don’t understand why everything is still taking so long. But stressed plants need time to recover and do all the growing they didn’t do when it was cold and icky, and that is why it’s just happening now. The soil is finally warm and the plants have recovered, mostly.

Tomatoes are coming on strong! Soon peppers and eggplant will join them. I can’t wait for ratatouille!

The cut-flower garden is producing well, and Rebekah has been doing bouquets for subscriptions for four weeks now. The garden is open to all CSA members during CSA Pickup windows: Saturdays 10-5 and Tuesdays 2-7. You can find pitchers and snips in the CSA shed, just please return them when you finish.

At this point, the Pumpkin Patch is looking good, but the Sunflower Patch is going to be much smaller and near the cut flower garden. Unfortunately I had to use the allocated Sunflower spot for growing food this year, as it was the only dry spot open back in June.

As farmers say, “There’s always next year.” Hopefully next year the weather will be more cooperative. One never knows, and that is why I am perpetually grateful for the continued support and encouragement of our CSA family.

In the mean time, we still have a long stretch of this CSA season, and things are looking really good. Finally.

Have a great week!

Shelley

Pile bean vines and the moon.

A Blast of Summer: Week 1

Those seemingly endless weeks of cold and rain finally ended… with an ovenlike blast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not thankful for a nice, long farming window. But the transition was a bit sudden.

Clockwise from top left: Green or Red Oakleaf Lettuce, Spinach, Green Onions, Baby Bok Choy (not in Mini Shares), Garlic Scapes, Salad Turnips (Large Shares only), and Purple Radishes (Large Shares only).

We have nearly caught up on all the summer planting! And while that doesn’t mean that we’ll be eating all the summer vegetable fruits right away, at least they’re growing. And that is a huge relief to me. I don’t take the responsibility to feed our CSA community lightly, and being held back by weeks of cold and wet weather  put the farm several weeks behind. It’s not unusual to need to pause the CSA in spring, between overwintered and new crops, but I have never needed to miss so many weeks. Over the last 20 years of CSA production, I may have started the Summer season late… once or twice. Generally, I feel like I know what I’m doing farming-wise, but this season has been something.

For a while, a few more weeks, we are primarily going to be harvesting leaves. We have lots of spinach and lettuce, chard and kale and arugula. Radishes will be along shortly, and turnips, beets and carrots in a few weeks. The onions are going to be a while because the transplants went in the ground about 6 weeks later than planned. But garlic is perfect, having been planted last fall. The outdoor round of sugar snap peas are starting to bloom, and so are the fava beans. And FINALLY the snap and shelling beans are growing. We’ve accomplished an awful lot in a short time.

The cut flower garden is nearly caught up as well. We’ve nearly got all the starts in the ground, and that’s a great feeling. The starts planted a month ago are getting big now that the soil is warm, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to open up the cutting garden in 2-3 weeks, as well as start the flower bouquet subscriptions. Fingers crossed!

But as we head into Summer Week 2, I am thankful for a successful first CSA week. While the Spring CSA was limited to just 80 families (and thankfully, this year, since we ended up cutting it significantly short with the weather), the Summer CSA is feeding 180 families. That’s a lot of organization, and as far as I know I haven’t misplaced any Seattle person’s box, and we didn’t run out of anything at the farm except green onions, which I swapped for the last bit of sugar snap peas. Not a bad swap, methinks!

As quickly as the aphids have found all of the sweet vegetables to prey upon, so have the Ladybugs moved in to dispatch the aphids.

After the last few hot and dry seasons, I had anticipated scaling up the melons, sweet potatoes, and doing outdoor tomatoes and peppers. Alas, this spring threw a wrench into those plans. So many of those plants had to be pushed aside so that more cool weather crops like peas, lettuce, and other greens could go in the ground instead. But don’t worry, the greenhouses are full of very happy tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. All of these will come in their time to complement the greens outside.

This week, the planting continues. The back fields have dried enough to start working up, so we can get the winter squash, pumpkin patch and sunflower patches planted. It was so wet when they should have been seeded, Trinity has been starting thousands of transplants in the greenhouse. They’ll need to get planted out in two weeks, when the field and plants are ready. It’s significantly more work to do transplants, but it was getting so late in the season that I didn’t want to risk waiting, lest the sunflowers not bloom and pumpkins not ripen. I’ll be starting all of the fall and winter brassica plants this week as well, and their spot will be ready to plant out in a couple weeks. Hard to believe it’s winter planting time already!

Have a great week!

Shelley

The first Snap Beans are up and have had their first cultivation. Fava Beans are blooming to the right, and Snap Peas just past them. It won’t be long!

The Spring That Was Winter

My last post was in late March, and I began, “This week has been a true introduction to Spring: the days are a bit longer, the light a bit brighter, and the rain a bit lighter than winter.” Little did we know that we would be entering the coldest, wettest spring in decades!

It’s been a frustrating few weeks, as I’ve had to pause the Spring CSA for three weeks now. It’s been so wet that the windows of opportunity for working-up ground and planting outside have been nearly nonexistent. And the rows that I did get planted have grown very slowly. We will be able to do a harvest next week, and hopefully no more pauses. I will be issuing a credit to all Spring CSA subscribers for those and any other missed weeks. 

Luckily, we are finally having some sun breaks! We’ve been able to get the higher, drier blocks worked and fertilized, and anticipate a big planting event this weekend. As long as the forecasted dry window holds! Greens and roots, and the anxious summer squash and onion transplants will all be headed out into the world soon! The first round of starts will go into the Cutflower Garden as well, and with some luck, we will still be opening for cutting in June. Realistically, though, opening will be a bit later than planned… end of June rather than mid-month. Also amazing news is that Trinity and Marta will be starting work next week, and they will be a huge help with harvesting, planting, and packing CSA shares.

Also, there is still plenty of room in the Main Season (June-November) CSA. Click this link to get to the online enrollment page, and share widely if you are already enrolled! We’re gearing up to feed lots of folks this summer, as I won’t be going back to farmers markets this summer. Given the extra unpredictability of the weather this coming season, I’ll be putting in extra cool weather crops (like greens, peas, and brassicas) as well as the warm-weather crops I had planned on increasing (field tomatoes, melons, and basil). One way or another, I fully anticipate being on track with abundant food for the Main Season (summer/fall). Plus, the CSA free perks of Cutflower Garden, Sunflower Patch, and the Pumpkin Patch.

We appreciate your patience, and your endless support of our farm and our local food system! We wouldn’t be here without you!

Shelley

Early Spring Update

Blossom buds on native Big Leaf Maple are such a robust sign of spring in the northwest. Soon they’ll be buzzing with native pollinators and honeybees!

This week has been a true introduction to Spring: the days are a bit longer, the light a bit brighter, and the rain a bit lighter than winter.

We have been planting, gradually, since February. But already the prop house (short for propagation greenhouse, where the baby transplants are started) is filling up, and we are moving plants through all the little microclimates inside. One greenhouse is full of 1′ tall Sugarsnap Pea plants that we should be starting to harvest in late May. Another is planted with Spinach. And yet another with purple Radishes and Salad Turnips. And one is boasting luscious overwintered Swiss Chard. Outside, the overwintered Cabbage and Turnips are doing their sprouting magic, becoming Rapini. Mint, Sorrel, and Chives are bursting with vitality, and Leeks and Miners Lettuce will round-out those first few weeks of the Spring CSA.

I am headed south for a much-anticipated 10-day road trip to explore the Mojave Desert. I’ve been in school full-time all winter, and I desperately need an adventure before farm season lands on us. But I am confidently leaving everything in Emily’s capable hands. She’ll be preparing the u-pick Cutflower Garden and seeding flats in the prop house until I get back, and tending all of those early greenhouse crops.

The Spring CSA will start when I get back, the first harvest/pickup day will be Saturday April 9, with Seattle deliveries and Tuesday on-farm pickup on April 12. This makes us perfectly timed to finish up with Spring mid-June, and start the Main Season CSA the week of June 18! Flowers will be blooming by then too, and all CSA members are welcome to come and pick bouquets again! Stay tuned for those updates! And if you haven’t yet reserved your Main Season CSA share or Mystery Box Subscription, there’s still room for you! Visit our Online Shop to enroll by clicking here

Please be patient, and thank you so much for your ceaseless support of our farm and our local food system! We wouldn’t be here without you!

Shelley

Sugarsnap Peas, started in January, are already a foot tall and growing fast! If all goes well, we’ll be picking pods in late May.

CSA Week 29, 2021

CSA Menu:
“Strawberry Paw” Potatoes
Cauliflower
Broccoli (not in Mini Shares)
“Honey Bear” Squash (not in Mini Shares)
Salad Turnips or Celery (not in Mini Shares)
Beets
Lacinato Kale
Leeks
Arugula, Rosemary, and Carrots (Large Shares only)

The first freezing nights and so much rain! We had easily 7″ here, and we definitely didn’t get the worse of the big storm. Luckily the farm property is in the high spot in the middle of the valley. The ground is very saturated, but it doesn’t flood. I’m very thankful for that, as I have several farmer friends up north who were not so lucky.

Special Pickup Options for Next Week:

Given that Thanksgiving is next week, I realize that some people will be out of town for this regularly-scheduled harvest. If you are not going to be home next Tuesday or Wednesday (Seattle folks), you have the option of picking up your share this Saturday, the 20th at the farm. Pickup time is between 10am and 5pm. Please let me know by Friday if you want to pick up Saturday at the farm instead of your usual Tuesday or Wednesday! Emily and I will need a little extra time to harvest and make sure there’s enough set out for everyone.

The first seed catalog is here! Time to plan… I’m ordering everything extra early to make sure I get what is needed on time.

And an announcement/reminder:

2022 CSA enrollment is live, and now is the time to sign up! After last year’s supply chain issues (remember the fertilizer shortage and late seed deliveries?) I’m ordering everything early. Like now. I picked up all of the seedling mix and flats that we’ll be needing to start seeds in February and through summer. I’ll be ordering all of my fertilizer from Oregon and picking it up before the end of the year. Seed potatoes will be available to order in another week, and the seed catalogs are arriving daily. I want to order everything by the end of November… supplies too. So please enroll early. Your funds will ensure that Emily and I get paid, and that we can get supplies, AND get all of our equipment up and running in time for that first groundbreaking in March/April. I’ve been told by suppliers that they don’t know when they’ll get anything any more. (I’m already on the waiting list for a pallet of waxed boxes… whenever they show up at the distributor!)

There is no paper enrollment form this year, as I’ve moved all of that paperwork to my new Barn2Door site, which will simplify my record keeping and email groups for next year. Click on this link to go to the “store”. You don’t need to pay with a credit card, you can mail a check or pay cash in person as well, but you do need to enroll online for my sanity. 🙂

Perfect heads of Romanesco cauliflower. Emily and I picked it earlier in the week since freezing nights were forecast.

Ground Beef:

I noticed that my freezer is still hoarding some ground beef from the cows we harvested in the early spring, and it needs to find homes! My cows were grass-fed, so the the burger is full-flavored and not extra-lean. I’m offering ten 1# packages for $65… you can pick up at the farm Tuesdays or Saturdays with your CSA, but if you want me to deliver to Seattle you’ll need to arrange a cooler at your drop site. Here’s the Barn2Door link: https://app.barn2door.com/e/9K807/all/lKMVE

CSA Week 24, 2021

CSA Menu:
“Chieftain” Potatoes
Celery or Spinach
“Honey Bear” Squash
Salad Turnips (not in Mini Shares)
Carrots
Arugula or Fresh Thyme (not in Mini Shares)
Baby Lettuces
Yellow Onions (not in Mini Shares)
Swiss Chard, Garlic, and Tomato (Large Shares Only)

A quick blog this week, just to say “Welcome!” to squash and greens season, and a few reminders!

Emily and I are bringing in the squashes before freezing weather starts. They need to be washed and cured so that they don’t start molding in storage. They need to last for two more months, and curing helps them to develop sweetness and flavor.

Pumpkin Patch and U-Cut Flowers:

The CSA-only Pumpkin Patch has been popular! To be clear, this is a simple pumpkin patch; we are putting on no airs here. Just fresh air, birds, and worms, and pumpkins laying next to the vines that grew them. Now it’s muddy, it’s dirty, and it’s real! CSA members can come down Saturdays 10-5 or Tuesdays 2-dusk. Limit of four pumpkins of any size per family. Mostly there are little ones remaining, in orange or white, but there are a few big ones too.

The cut-flower garden is still pumping out blooms! The Zinnias and Verbena are exploding, and there is also some Love-Lies Bleeding and Bachelors Buttons, Cosmos and Marigolds. Come and get them while they last! Once we get a hard frost they’ll be gone until next June.

Our simple, quiet pumpkin patch! No crowds, just birds, pumpkins, and worms.

And an announcement/reminder:

2021 CSA enrollment is live, and current CSA members can save 10% by enrolling before October 17. I’ve broken the season into three sections for 2022, and enrollment for Spring is limited to 75 shares. Winter is limited to 100 shares. I’m actually increasing the Main Season (Summer) to 200 this year, so if you aren’t able to pay for the full year yet, but value the early and late seasons, make sure to grab those shares while they’re still available! As of tonight, there are just 15 Spring Shares left for 2021! Monday October 18, I’ll open up enrollment to the public, and the early payment discount will expire.

There is no paper enrollment form this year, as I’ve moved all of that paperwork to my new Barn2Door site, which will simplify my record keeping and email groups for next year. Click on this link to go to the “store”. You don’t need to pay with a credit card, you can mail a check or pay cash in person as well, but you do need to enroll online for my sanity. 🙂

I’m so excited that the broccoli is sizing up! Cauliflowers are coming too, but this broccoli variety should be ready to harvest in about two weeks!

OH! One more thing… the Trading Box!:

If you pick up at the farm, you should have noticed the new Trading Box. This is something we offered years ago, and it fell by the wayside. But when Sonja suggested we do it again, Emily and I were on board. Here’s how it works: We put a random assortment of produce in the box, in addition to the CSA offerings. If you don’t want (or can’t eat) one of the items offered, you take it and put it in the trading box, and exchange it for something else. It’s that easy. The important part is the TRADING. It’s not a box of extra things, you have to trade. We hope you take advantage of it!

If you pick up your CSA at the farm, you can take advantage of our new Trading Box. Exchange items you don’t like or can’t eat for something you want!

CSA Week 22, 2021

CSA Menu:
“Red Gold” or “Yukon Gem” Potatoes
Celery or the last of the Zucchini
Napa Cabbage or Kale or Basil
Assorted Melons
“Ostergruss Rossa” Radishes (not in Mini Shares)
Shelling Beans or Green Beans (not in Mini Shares)
Spinach
Garlic
Carrots, Sweet Pepper, and Tomato (Large Shares Only)

Fall has finally arrived. Not just astronomically, for the Autumnal Equinox was last Wednesday, but also in our weather changes. It’s in the changing angle of light, the cooler temperatures, and the soaking rains that finally bring the end to irrigation routines. Planting is finished for the year, and all of the leafy crops are happy and thriving. It’s a huge relief after this ultra-dry summer.

These Ostergruss radishes are perfect for fall. Slightly spicy and sweet, and you can eat the greens too.

I do have a few updates:

First, a reminder that Seattle CSA deliveries switch to Wednesday mornings starting this week. I have classes on Tuesdays now, so I’ve changed my routine around. Same drop sites, and the same delivery times, but on Wednesdays starting the 29th. Second: The CSA-only Pumpkin Patch opens this Saturday! Bring your family down on Saturday or Sunday, 10-3, or on Tuesday after 2:00. I’ve counted them and I believe there are enough pumpkins for each family to take a total of 4. Big, small, or some of each. So follow the vultures to the patch and hang out with the Scarecrew!

The vultures will lead you to the CSA-only Pumpkin Patch! Limit four pumpkins per family, large or small.

And an announcement/reminder:

2021 CSA enrollment is live, and current CSA members can save 10% by enrolling before October 15. I’ve broken the season into three sections for 2022, and enrollment for Spring is limited to 75 shares. Winter is limited to 100 shares. I’m actually increasing the Main Season (Summer) to 200 this year, so if you aren’t able to pay for the full year yet, but value the early and late seasons, make sure to grab those shares while they’re still available!

There is no paper enrollment form this year, as I’ve moved all of that paperwork to my new Barn2Door site, which will simplify my record keeping and email groups for next year. Click on this link to go to the “store”. You don’t need to pay with a credit card, you can mail a check or pay cash in person as well, but you do need to enroll online.

Karen sent me this photo of vintage CSA newsletters from the year 2000! Back in the days before websites and internets. How long have you been a CSA member?

CSA Week 17, 2021

CSA Menu:
“Red Gold” Potatoes
Zucchini or Pattypans (not in Mini Shares)
Assorted Cucumbers
Garlic
Assorted Lettuces (not in Mini Shares)
Basil
Eggplant (Large Shares only)
Galia Melon (Large Shares only)

We are half-way through the 2021 CSA season. The last time I wrote a post here was in May. Week 2. That was a very long time ago. I’ve been posting photos and lists of CSA contents every week on Instagram and Facebook, but I know that not everyone goes there, and for that, I apologize.

Cosmo and his cousin transplanting the last lettuce and radicchio for fall and winter in front of the blooming Sunflower Patch.

I am extremely grateful to have Emily here this year. She has learned quickly, and loves the farm. She’s building up her endurance for long farm days, and hopefully she will be back next year. I had hoped to hire one other person this summer, so that we could lighten our collective load, but I still have not found anyone, and the most intense part of the season is nearly over. Thankfully!

This week we finish all of the planting for the rest of the year! Today the last of the transplanted greens were planted, and all of the rest of the spinach, arugula, and other tender greens will get sown. As the hot crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are ripening, the remaining greenhouse are being cleaned up for winter greens like chard, Napa cabbage, fennel, and more spinach.

The Sunflowers are in full-bloom, so I hope that you will all come down and walk among them and be happy. There is no charge for CSA members. The cut flower garden is in its prime, too, so I encourage everyone to come grab a pair of snips from the CSA shed and cut an armload of blooms to take home. The pumpkin patch is coming along nicely, and in just five weeks or so, that will be open for CSA members only as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Seattle Deliveries will Change beginning the Week of September 20!
I start school at Green River Community College September 20. After doing prerequisite classes last year, I’m finally in the Natural Resources program, where I’ll be pursuing a degree in Parks Management/Forestry. I’ll have classes Tuesdays, so I’ll be doing deliveries Wednesday mornings through the end of the year beginning September 22. Dropsites and times remain the same. On-Farm pickups will continue to be on Tuesdays.

The Sunflower Patch, in full bloom and waiting for you to visit! Free for CSA members!

UPCOMING CHANGES IN 2022:

Now that the farm workload is starting to wind down, and days are short enough to have some thinking and planning time in the evenings, I’m starting to think about how to change next year. It’s clear that I can’t count on finding workers, and I definitely need to lighten our work load somewhat so we aren’t so overwhelmed and exhausted all summer. Also, the FarmStand was generating a fair profit last year while everything was closed, but this year business has been very slow; most shoppers have been CSA members adding on little extras when they pick up their share.

Challenge 1:
Spring was the most challenging time for us, because we were working on harvesting spring crops for everyone, while hustling to plant everything for the rest of the year.

Solution:
I will be breaking up the season into three smaller ones: still harvesting 35 weeks, April-December, but separating into a large Main Season, and smaller Spring and Winter seasons. While we will continue with the larger CSA model of 150 families in the Main Season (mid-June through Thanksgiving), I will be limiting the number of Spring and Winter shares to 75. Spring will run early April through mid-June and Winter will run from late November through the end of the year. So if you are one of those die-hard CSA members who chomps at the bit for farm-fresh, unusual produce in April, you’ll want to sign up early. The CSA enrollment form goes live this weekend.

Challenge 2:
The FarmStand is unprofitable in its current state. This summer, the FarmStand has barely broken-even, and often a fair amount of product that I buy from other farms is wasted. I am more than happy to make product available for CSA members! That makes me happy! But what doesn’t make sense is setting up a big spread for people to come shop, and paying someone to cashier. Also, Tuesday CSA members, as well as Seattle CSA families, are left out of this model. (I don’t like that part!)

Solution:
I want to purchase a large glass-fronted refrigerator, maybe two. I can put small amounts of product inside daily, and offer self-serve/honor system sales every day. Product won’t be wasted on hot days or slow days, and I can keep it stocked daily. If I put the refrigerators inside a shed, I can lock them up at night instead of needing to haul everything back to the walk-in cooler at night, and I can also stock honey, jams, and other value-added products.

Also, I have signed up for online ordering services with Barn2Door.com. They are still helping me set everything up, but by next week, I hope to have online CSA enrollment, as well as add-on ordering of specialty and bulk items available for ALL CSA members, including Seattle families. I hope to have my site live by this weekend.

Challenge 3:
The farm needs to generate income in the summer to cover payroll and the water bill when CSA income runs out.

Solution:
Emily and I have been discussing how to incorporate a for-profit cut flower garden and pumpkin patch, in addition to the CSA-only free versions. I am asked every fall if we have a small pumpkin patch by local families; not everyone wants a giant pumpkin extravaganza. Also, there are no u-pick cut flower gardens in this area, although they exist in other places. We’d like to give it a try, because so many people have found joy in the flower garden this summer! One more idea is to start hosting campers here, to enjoy the oasis of birding, picking food and flowers, and encounters with wildlife. I’m hoping to crowdfund conversion of the old butcher shed into a community bath house to make that possible, so keep an eye out.

So, those are the big changes we’re planning for next year. I most likely will not return to farmers markets full time, but I may pop in again in August, like this year. It’s just too exhausting with everything happening at the farm. I’m truly loving the community aspect of our new, big CSA model, and I’d really like to draw more people directly to the farm.

Please feel free to tell me your thoughts and feelings about these changes. You are part of the WTF community, and we do all of this for you!

CSA Week 2, 2021

CSA Week 2, clockwise from top left: Miz America Salad Mustard, Chervil, Green Shallots, Spinach, Radishes, Cauliflower.

CSA Menu:
Cauliflower
Green Shallots (use like a Spring Onion or Green Onion)
Radishes
Salad Mustard (use raw or lightly cooked)
Spinach
Chervil (delicate, licorice-flavored herb. Use fresh.)


Spring means that days are long, like the to-do lists. We are busy planting, cultivating, and even irrigating already. The early greenhouse crops of Arugula, Spinach, and Radishes are nearly finished and we’ll be cleaning them out to prepare for the Tomatoes and Cucumbers going in the ground next week. The early Peas are blooming heavily now, and setting pods. Sadly, the rabbits managed to sneak around all the security measures and took out a lot of the Sugarsnaps, but the Shelling Peas are loaded.

Outside, the Favas and Peas are looking good and strong, and they’re in a highly-visible location for rabbit control. Luigi has been a star bunny hunter, sniffing out and digging up nests, and Emily and I both prowl the farm early and late in the day with our air rifles. We’re doing our best to back up the Red-Tailed Hawks and Barn Owls in their efforts to control our non-native Eastern Cottontails.

The first outdoor plantings of greens, including Spinach, Lettuces, Pea Shoots (and a lot more!) are coming along and should be ready in another two weeks. This week we are busy getting the first Summer Squash, Kale, Chard, and Cabbages planted. Corn will go in the ground this week (don’t worry, those of you who are corn-sensitive, it’s far away from other crops), as well as another round of u-pick items. I’m hopeful and fairly confident that the u-pick garden will be ready mid-June to welcome you.

Week 3 will be a little odd, as we are in that uncomfortable bridge between early and late spring. There will be lots of Cauliflower. Prepare yourselves. Radishes, Green Garlic, Green Shallots, and hopefully something leafy. Week 4 will usher in more variety, so hang in there.

Other exciting news at the farm:

Peas are setting, and soon we’ll be picking for you!

I opened the FarmStand last Saturday, quietly. I don’t have much to offer just yet from the farm, and other farms don’t have much different than what I have. I was able to procure a few varieties of apples from Collins Orchards. The FarmStand will be much more exciting once we get to June, and the strawberries and peas, and other delicacies of summer start to arrive.

AND I need a favor:

I am in desperate need of a cargo van. My old market van is dead, and my Toyota Highlander isn’t able to do all of the farm jobs that I need done. I’ve been renting a van for picking up fertilizer and equipment, but I can’t keep renting now that I’m doing CSA deliveries as well. But I’m in a pickle! I need to sell my Toyota (my only car) to cover the downpayment, but I need to drive the Toyota until I get the van. I need a very short-term loan, or multiple small loans, just until I can get my car sold. The blue-book value is $10,000, and I’m looking for $8,000. If anyone can spare $1,000 for just a couple months, I will happily repay ASAP (as soon as my car sells) with the addition of 15# of my grass-fed ground beef from this winter’s harvest. You will also receive my undying gratitude. Please email me if you can help!

Piles of Cauliflowers, planted last August.